Touring and concerts

The d&b SL-Series keeps the Love in the Park.

An open-air techno festival, Love Family Park has been running for twenty  years at various locations. This year, the event moved to a new site by the river Main, close to the city centre of Rüsselsheim, between Wiesbaden and Frankfurt. The site is just a short walk from Rüsselsheim’s railway station. With such proximity to residential and business areas, this year’s festival presented a considerable noise control challenge for the promoter, Cosmopop.

Sound in a tight spot

Cosmopop takes pride in high quality production and aims to deliver both a great experience for the audience and a comfortable experience for local residents. Cosmopop’s technical director Anatol Fried had been introduced to the d&b audiotechnik NoizCalc software at the company’s headquarters in Backnang two years previously. Impressed by NoizCalc and its relevance, he was able to use it to predict the impact of a PA system at the new site. The results were less than encouraging, so he took his simulation to d&b to ask for their suggestions.

Hendrik Ahrens, market segment manager for Rental & Touring at d&b, takes up the story. “We looked at Anatol’s NoizCalc simulations and it was clear to us that this could only work with the cardioid, high directivity performance of the SL-Series. It simply would not work with any other PA. We did a calculation comparing the J-Series and V-Series PA configuration with a GSL configuration at the site. The result was clear. The GSL system showed a difference in the city centre area of more than 10dB.”

GSL in control

On the basis of these simulations, Fried changed the event’s tender specification to d&b GSL, and rental operator TDA Rental, based in Bottrop, near Essen, won the tender. This would be TDA’s first time servicing Love Family Park, and their first job for Cosmopop.

Compared with the J-Series, it delivers more headroom, better clarity, consistency and directivity.Steve Todeskino

TDA had experience of the GSL through field-testing the system with d&b on various festivals and touring shows since late 2017. Leading the Love Family Park project for TDA was Steve Todeskino. He says, “The main task was to properly cover the audience areas without one stage disturbing the next, and without annoying the neighbourhood. This was accomplished with the exceptional directivity control of the SL-Series. Compared with the J-Series, it delivers more headroom, better clarity, consistency and directivity.”

With techno content, the systems themselves were not particularly large by festival standards, just ten GSL per side, with eighteen SL-SUBs for the larger dance area, driven by D80 amplifiers. For the second-largest area, eight GSL per side were complemented by twelve SL-SUBs, with the system driven by D80 amplifiers. Meanwhile, TDA and d&b also took the opportunity to field test GSL’s new little brother: the two smaller dancefloor spaces were served by eight KSL cabinets per side.

A spezial family

Since its introduction earlier this year, the GSL system with its broadband horizontal directivity control has proven its worth in applications worldwide. As NoizCalc confirmed, GSL was clearly well suited to containing the sound within the larger dancefloor areas at Love Family Park. The festival’s two smaller stages, however, presented an opportunity for d&b to conduct additional field tests of the latest addition to its SL-Series.

The smaller brother of GSL, which stands for Große Spezial Lautsprecher – Big Special Loudspeaker in English, is naturally called KSL, Kleine Spezial Lautsprecher, or Little Special Loudspeaker. Field tests of KSL have been running continuously since May 2018, and Love Family Park was the penultimate test of the system before its forthcoming commercial release.

Where GSL is built around a front-facing double 14” LF driver configuration, KSL is a double 10” configuration. Size difference aside, KSL features all the same engineering wizardry that gives the GSL its ‘spezial’ powers, resulting in unprecedented dispersion control across the full range, but from a smaller package.

Designed for use as a stand-alone system or as a fill or delay complement to GSL system, the KSL adds another layer of capability to the SL-Series. In Todeskino’s experience with field-tests, “KSL integrates very well with GSL in every respect.”

If there is a critique of the SL-Series performance, it comes as a side-effect of its improved control and clarity. “Engineers are becoming more aware of the poor sources in their mix, as these are more obvious with SL-Series,” says Todeskino.

No Surprises

So how did KSL perform at Love Family Park? “As we expected, and as NoizCalc predicted,” says Ahrens. “There were no surprises.”

No surprises anywhere, in fact. Measurements were taken at key points in the city centre environment by specialists from Dutch firm Event Acoustics, as well as by the licensed consultant hired by the promoter, throughout the twelve hour event. The collated result of all this real-world data showed that the sound was ever so slightly - about 1dB - quieter than the NoizCalc prediction.

That’s compelling evidence of the d&b SL-Series technology, and good news for all event organisers who need to grapple with the challenges of art versus noise.

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